Tapeworm larvae found in Australian woman’s brain after headaches

Going to need something stronger than Excedrin for this.

A 25-year-old Australian woman discovered she had tapeworm larvae in her brain after suffering from a chronic headaches for years.

The woman is also the first Australian person to ever develop such an affliction without traveling internationally first, according to a new study published by the The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in September.

The case had previously only been reported by immigrants or people who had traveled to regions where the disease is relatively common, according to CNN.

An MRI showed a cyst in the woman's brain which was found to contain tapeworm larvae.
An MRI showed a cyst in the woman’s brain which was found to contain tapeworm larvae. (The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene)

According to the woman, she would get headaches two or three times a month for the past seven years. While she was taking migraine medication, her most recent bout lasted for more than a week and caused more severe symptoms, including blurring vision.

An MRI found a suspicious growth on her brain. Doctors who performed surgery believed it was tumor but after removing it they discovered it was a cyst with tapeworm larvae.

The disease, which is called neurocysticercosis, is often fatal and can cause other diseases like epilepsy. It’s not known how the woman, who worked as a barista, had ingested tapeworm eggs, but it can be contracted by consuming undercooked meat, especially pork, or food that was prepared in unsanitary conditions. However, tapeworm eggs can also be found in water and soil.

Every year there are an estimated 1,000 new hospitalizations for neurocysticercosis in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of U.S. cases occur in New York, California, Texas, Oregon and Illinois.

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